Devourer of Updates

November 4, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 23 Comments
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So after a few weeks with little to feed upon, (and some technical hardware problems on my end) the ravenous masses now have their meal. Arenanet has given us an update.

Lets start with the engineer toolbelt. To be frank, I don’t really care that much about the engineer. I’ll end up playing one at some point, as I am one of the people who will eventually play every race and every profession, but I’m not altogether chomping at the bit to give it a try.

That said I like that Arenanet is going out of their way to give all utility skills that extra toolbelt option. It is really starting to give me a feeling of something more than just an engineer. There is almost a James Bond feel to some of these skills.

For instance, Slick Shoes releases a pool of oil on the ground, making enemies slip and fall. The toolbelt option gives you super speed. The direct implication in my head is that I am sliding around on the oil like I used to slide around on black ice as a kid or on hardwood floors in my socks or any slick surface a child comes into contact with. It also gives off the feel of being a sort of improvised addition to the original intent of the gadget, much like what a secret agent might do with his spy technology.

Depending on how this is implemented a player could have a lot of fun with it. These ideas seem both innovative, intuited directly from the previous skill, and fun. I think that’s a lot harder than it sounds.

What I’m less impressed with is the update to pets. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a step up from previous usability. There are a few common sense changes.

Changing from 3 total slots, where aquatic pets didn’t really make sense on land, to a system that has 2 land pet slots and 2 aquatic, just works better. It’s kind of similar to the aquatic weapon set switch really.

And I like that you can call in the other pet when the current pet is down. It gives rangers an extra tactical kick at the can, something a lot of professions seem to have.

It’s when we start talking about skills and controls that I get a problem. I want a sophisticated AI system, direct control when necessary, and specific use of a number of different skills. Hopefully some form of pet skill bar would achieve this. What we seem to be getting is something else.

A very basic two option AI system that doesn’t seem to add much of anything to usability. Basically it’s attack when I attack, or attack only when I specifically tell my pet to attack. In my opinion that’s very simple. Why not AI options that tell my pet to harass melee or soften up spellcasters? Or an option to concentrate on damage or conditions?

Is it so much to ask for the same basic usability that most other games have with pets? I understand if you want to do something different but I’m not much interested in reduced options.

Aside from that I have mixed feelings about some of the changes to unlocking pets. The changes seem to make pets less individual companions and more unlockable generic companions.

You don’t have to level them because they adjust to your level. Which I admit is convenient but to an extent kind of takes away from a sort of bonding feeling that a lot of people who would want to play a pet class would be interested in. Mixed feelings there. I know I can’t level a dozen different pets at once, but seeing pets develop new skills or abilities is normally one of the things I like most about pet classes.

Finally they talk about cross profession combos, and although I’m at a loss to suggest better ideas for combos, it seems Arenanet is kind of stuck for their combo ideas.

They all seem to involve, as they describe, a field and things passing through that field or interacting with that field. And while a lot of Arenanet skills seem intuitive and follow logically from what they’re supposed to be doing, I felt some of the examples didn’t. Well one anyway.

Use Ricochet through a Firewall to get a bouncing axe that has a chance to burn the targets it hits. Leaping Death Blossom through a Symbol of Faith will remove conditions from allies near your target. Stomp inside a Smoke Screen to cloak nearby allies.

I love the Stomp and Smoke Screen combo, but I don’t necessarily think Death Blossom and Symbol of Faith seem like they go together. How does someone jumping through that symbol remove conditions? Oh well, magic I guess. The other examples seem good, and I

I’m probably coming off more negative than I feel about the update, but those were my problems with it regardless.

A fairly straight forward approach to cross profession combos.



  1. I can’t wait for me and my friends to take out different classes and then enjoy combo-ing bad guys. Current MMOs…well the only interplayer “combo synergy” is a buff they bring, or powerful cooldown. We’ll see it when it finally lands but it just sounds more active and more palyer interactivity.

    • I will admit that overall the combo thing is pretty fantastic. You just don’t get that level of gameplay in just about any other mmo.

  2. The combo’s thing is indeed a great idea, but yes I was disappointed to see you need a field to get any of them started – it seems limited and perhaps obvious. I feel this is one of the great things about the combat, at least on paper and its important to get it down pat. It’s a great start though.
    You could perhaps get you basic skill combos that you used to get in GW, but as cross-player. Freezing someone and then setting them on fire, if they are bleeding you could aoe them and spread the bleeding about. Pin them to the ground and kick them over for more damge. Almost skill combo bonuses really i suspose, rough idea yes.

    • Some decent ideas there, but personally I’d want to see something like where someone freezes a person, and another person hits them with a fire attack, they become blinded by steam for one attack or something. The field thing is a bit limiting. At least its light years ahead of the mmo competition.

  3. I’m most excited in that they seem to have given me one thing I enjoy, options!!!, More Skills, More Control and More Combos,


    • Thats the thing for me, at least as far as the “more control” part goes, they’ve only given us the basics we should have had in the original gw.

  4. I think the basic set up of how combos work now is a great start. It seems decently thought out and implemented while remaining simple for players to grasp. A good beginning point really. But it leaves room for new updates or additions to the system if ANet finds new inspiration on how to improve/innovate later on.

    • I think combos in general are a fantastic innovation, that could be better if they weren’t limited by fields. but i agree.

  5. I also felt the pet changes were nothing spectacular too. Plus they almost sold the “we’ve only given you two options for pet control” thing as a positive! Very strange update imo.

    • Thought I was the only one, discussed it with others and they just think I’m a complainer.

    • As much as i would have liked to micromanage all of my pets abilities i can understand why they limited them to the bare basics. If they had a lot of actions performed by the pet bind to hotkeys that would seriously conflict with their design philosophy. They are trying not to make the combat hotkey based and this is the only way they can keep it that way. Imagine how many keys you would have to bind in order to control the pet. As long as the AI doesn’t suck I personally have no problem with there only being a few pet controls. I do however see the problem people see in this.

      • You wouldn’t necessarily need to have a bunch of hotkeys. Setting your pet to focus on spellcasters for instance, could be handled the same way Bioware handles AI in dragon age, setting up which skills to use in which order with what kinds of enemies. And only one skill activation button? I think we can handle more than one.

        • Actually that thing about Bioware does with AI is pretty nice, I completely forgot about that and now I want it in GW2….Damn you Hunter! 🙂

  6. I don’t like the pet out of nowhere in combat when your first pet is down thing.

    • As far as games go you’re always going to have summons that come out of nowhere. I think being able to call out a 2nd pet when the first one goes down is an extra kick at the can. Necromancers get special features like Fear or their unique mechanic death shroud, thieves get teleports, stealth, and the steal mechanic, rangers get pets, but once it dies you’re out of luck? Nah, send in the 2nd pet.

      • It also gives an added element of strategy if you can summon a specific pet to help against a certain enemy thereby de-summoning your already out pet.

        • definitely. perhaps even a little weapon or utility skill coordination with a pet skill.

  7. We at Chez Randomessa aren’t tickled about the Ranger pet changes, either, but we are big on the whole training of/bonding with a pet aspect you mentioned. We agree we’d like more control over pet’s skills – it’s bad enough that we can’t even force the pet to use a certain skill at a certain time.

    I am 99% down with the tedious aspects of previous MMOs ANet is trying to get rid of, but the pet thing isn’t one of them (and I’d love to blog about the other ones, as soon as I can get a hook to build a post around).

    • I have to agree, for the most part I’m down with whatever they do but I don’t understand why they’d want to make pets into more of an anonymous generic weapon than a personalized companion. They should be pushing for more personalization not less.

  8. You know, as I said in my blog post, I liked the idea they have going about the pets. I know some people would love to have robust functionality but I can’t see myself managing a second character in a sense while dodging and weaver on my main character.

    Some people may be awesome at it sure, but i don’t think it warrants the extra development time it would take.

    Other than that, I’m aces for the Engineer tool belt and still exicited about cross profession combos.

    • I just wouldn’t call wanting something more than basic controls “managing a second character”. Pets are supposed to be something like half my damage, of course i should have control options and numerous skills.

  9. Hello Hunter, how are you? Ubi here 🙂

    As always great article, the James Bond comparison was a new way to look at the belt kit that I enjoyed a lot 🙂 (Asura Engineer = Spy kids lol)
    This update has really took the profession to its own place, as a master of tricks it seems right for the engineer to have this variety of choices.

    The pet update in my opinion was a pvp-driven update, implemented in order not to keep the secolar ranger disadvantage of having the pet down in no time…
    I don’t have much experience with other MMOs, I speak as an oldtimer GW player, to me it’s just wrong to have a swapping pet in combat. First of all I like the idea of a game mechanic that is “rational” in the fantasy setting we’re playing…if I’m willing to accept a combo where a holy symbol on the ground heals others if someone swipes a sword through it (fire wall is ok….this is like a “holy wall”…i can go that far) I cannot accept a ranger with 2 pets at the same time….where does it keep the second pet? Backpack? 😦 To me the explanation to the update was that while testing the various pvp options (pve is not a big concern for the pet…since you can control the battle timing and have you and the pet recharge before engaging) it came up that killing the ranger pet and then killing the ranger was a much better option rather then going on the ranger himself while having his pet backing him up against you…Since for balance porpuses the pet has to be fairly less strong than a player, what happens is that the player goes against the pet….pet down…ranger in problems….ranger down. Making the pet stronger was too difficoult for many reasons so Anet decided to have 2 pets, this way the ranger that sees his pet life dropping from 100% to 20% in a heartbeat can just swipe it without paying the extra cooldown period and have a new one ready to go while fighting the same opponent (who by the way gets a little disadvantage because he lost time and energy/skills/adrenaline on a pet that now has *puffed! away while taking hits from the ranger…).
    Since I hate haters that do not propose something instead, here’s my idea:
    I would have made a little pool of skills for each pet family (felines, dragons, bears…) since they already have their signature strikes, why not making a small (5 skills per family) pool, from which the ranger could pick out the, let’s say, 2 skills that the pet keep using. These skills can be particular attacks, or support skills for the pet (makes the pet healthier…makes him able to dodge attacks…makes him a faster attacker but then squishier…): instead of 2 pets on, let’s have 1 with double options.

    The third update about combos in my opinion does not give a realistic picture about the situation. I clearly remember an older post on an interview where someone from Anet talks about combos and throws in as an example a warrior smashing his hammer down>>enemy flies in the air>>other warrior finishes the combo by striking the enemy in the air.
    Those ground targeted combos should be the main thing but I think those are just the one Anet has been working on right now as the “main kind of combo” possible. I really think there will be more kinds, maybe less in number but more specific for each profession, let’s say a necro fearing someone away and a warrior taking advantage of that fear to do an attack that does something more that ordinary dmg…or maybe a guardian trapping a foe in a symbol, a necro then fears the foe away but since the foe is blocked he can’t run and fear takes away life ^_^.

    I’m just realizing that this post has gone a lot longer than I thought, sorry for the hugeness!!!! 🙂

    Cheers mate


    • I don’t have much of a problem with being able to swap out pets, I think its an interesting feature, but the lack of a sort of bond with your pet does take away from the idea of playing a pet class.

      I do like the idea of having more skills, its definitely something i’d be interested in.

      Your ideas for combos are great. Definitely something more along the lines of what i was thinking for combos outside of fields.

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